Constitution in Modern Times
Independence of the Judiciary and the Civil Service - Part 5
Our present constitution has quietly promoted systems over the decades which facilitated responsible government by putting mechanisms in place to allow for the separation of powers.
The foundation of this system has worked well in the Cayman Islands for the most part. For example, judicial independence is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the Governor is responsible for the appointment of judges, the funding of the judiciary is entrenched and judicial decisions are made without fear or favour.
In every society, the independence of the judiciary plays an integral role in preserving and promoting law and order. Their role is to administer impartial justice. In other western societies, the force of the independent judiciary is seen in high profile cases where politicians, persons holding high public office and other persons of influence go before the courts like other ordinary citizens.
Similarly we see that the independence of the Public Service is also a fundamental part of promoting responsible government. Whilst the role of civil servants is to implement the policies administered by the executive, they should feel free to do so in accordance with the laws of the islands and not be unduly influenced to act outside their remit.
Historically, the relationship between civil servants and politicians has always been strained because, whilst they assist Ministers, they also serve public interests. The role of the civil servant is to make a Minister’s policy a reality. However, as a technocrat, the civil servant’s role is also to provide the Minister with a reality check from time to time.
Therefore, if the policy to be implemented falls within the prescribed budget, adheres to the rules of government and promotes public interests, then the civil servant should ensure that the policy becomes a reality. If on the other hand, the policy offends the criteria above, then it is the role of the civil servant to ensure that it is revisited and only implemented until it is fully compliant.
Without the independence of the judiciary, justice would not be for all. Likewise, without the independence of the civil service, the engine of government would not run seamlessly.
Any process of constitutional reform must be mindful of maintaining adequate checks and balances within its government and improving them where we can. Whilst the aim of the Westminster style government is not to restrict the power of each branch of government, it does seek to ensure that no branch becomes too powerful or encroaches on the other.
Last Updated: 2007-10-02